It’s National Walnut Day!

Posted May 19, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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Go nuts!

If you’re a health nut, then walnuts are for you. They are nutritious and delicious. Just a few of these nuts provide you with a whole list of healthful benefits.

Choose walnuts:

Rich in antioxidants and Omega 3s

Good for your gut

Helps with weight control

Good for healthy aging

Boosts brain function

If you’re hungry and need a tasty snack, grab a handful of walnuts to feed your hunger pangs and improve your well-being.

Go nutty today with some fun nut idioms and puns.

Idioms:

Tough nut to crack

Health nut

In a nutshell

From soup to nuts

Nuts about you

You drive me nuts

Get down to the nuts and bolts

A coffee nut

Puns:

Nut-thing lasts forever

Believe it or nut

Down, but nut out

Burn the midnut oil

The writing is on the wal-nut

A true treat on National Walnut Day is the book All from a Walnut by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

This is a beautiful and heartfelt multigenerational story. Grandfather tells Emilia the story of his journey across the ocean carrying only one bag and in his pocket, a walnut. That walnut seed planted many years ago is now a strong tree, towering above Emilia’s mother’s smaller tree. And now, Grandfather patiently teaches Emilia how to plant and care for the walnut she found. With each page turn, this story tugs at your heart as readers revel in the story of family, love, and life.  

The soft light of morning falls upon ripening forests of oak and elm, walnut and hickory, and all Nature is thoughtful and calm. – Author: John Muir

My Current Favorite Picture Books

Posted May 12, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

Tags: , ,

Each of these books touched my heart in different ways. They are well worth reading and sharing.

Once Upon a Forest

A beautifully illustrated, wordless book about two friends, a marmot and a bird, who work diligently to bring back the forest that has been destroyed by a wildfire. Day after day, season after season, they continue digging and planting little trees. Slowly, the trees reclaim their place in the forest. This is a perfect book to elicit discussions about protecting our natural resources and taking care of our earth.

Out of a Jar

Llewellyn is a bunny who doesn’t know what to do with feelings he doesn’t like. So, he puts them in a jar “and that was that.” But when there’s no more room in the jars, his feelings burst forth. Like the shattered jars, Llewellyn is broken. Eventually, he finds relief as he slowly learns how to “muster up the courage to feel them” and let his emotions go. Another perfect book for children who are having difficulty dealing with emotions and learning how to manage them. 

Eyes that Speak to the Stars

This is a companion book to Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. Beautiful lyrical language tells the story of a young Asian boy who is upset when a classmate draws a picture of him with lines as eyes. His father comforts the boy by having them look at their eyes in a mirror and saying, “Your eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars…,” letting his son know that his eyes are special. This phrase is repeated throughout the book as the boy notices the similarities in his father, grandfather, and little brother’s eyes. Not only does he see the resemblances, but he comes to realize that their eyes are visionary and powerful. The captivating illustrations match the beauty of the words.

Brilliant Bea

Imagination plus dyslexia equals what? Bea! She is a little girl who has good intentions to learn, but her brain doesn’t listen which frustrates Bea. Luckily, Bea’s teacher encourages and supports her learning style. She gives Bea a recorder to tape her creative stories. Suddenly, Bea’s classmates listen to her stories and see a whole new person. Bea discovers “Learning differently wasn’t something to be afraid of anymore…” This is a great book to be shared with students who have dyslexia, learning challenges, and other students to help them understand that learning has its difficulties for everyone.
Back matter on dyslexia is included.

Creating a Picture Book

Posted May 5, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Creating a Picture Book

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After working for over two years on research, writing, and revising, my nonfiction picture book about Colonel Thomas S. Meacham and his “big cheese” was accepted for publication. It’s now in the works.

Here are just a few of the many things that need to be addressed: 

Tweaking text

Tweaking back matter

Tweaking the book title

Page count

Page layout

Designer input

Copyediting

Making sure illustrations are historically accurate without infringing on the creativity of the illustrator

Checking for kid-friendly vocabulary and appeal

Pacing

Page turns

All this takes time and careful consideration.

Luckily, I have a fabulous editor, a talented illustrator, and creative team members who are working together to make the best decisions to create a winning end product.

Stay tuned for more as my book moves along toward publication.

Its debut is in the spring of 2023!

Sick Day!

Posted April 28, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

I’m calling in sick today. My grandchildren gifted me with their colds. I have major brain fog. Sorry, no blog today!

Stay healthy.

I’ll be back next week!

Celebrate Earth Day!

Posted April 21, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Earth Day

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Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin came up with an idea to raise awareness of environmental issues. On April 22, 1970, Earth Day was born. Demonstrations took place across the United States to protect our planet Earth from pollution and deforestation. Groups picked up litter and planted trees. Earth Day is now an international celebration. About one billion people observe this day every year. There are many more things that humans can do to continue to protect our Earth. This year’s theme is “Invest in our Planet.” Do it!

Check out these picture books about our planet Earth.

All from a Walnut

One Million Trees

The Garden We Share

Hey, Water!

Emile and the Field

Ice! Poems About Polar Life

The Tide Pool Waits

Little Monarchs

Poetry! Choose Your Favorite

Posted April 14, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Poetry Month

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Poetry is many things to different people. It can be figurative language, imagery, tone, emotion, meter, rhyme, or verse. Whatever the form, it’s something that speaks to a person. It’s something to be embraced and enjoyed.

Wordsworth refers to poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings . . .”

Browse through these poetic books and see what feelings they stir up.

Beautiful Day!

Animal Poetry

Animal Ark

Days Like This

Doodle Dandies

Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson

One Leaf Rides the Wind

My First Book of Haiku Poems

A New Green Day

Follow the Recipe

Shape Me a Rhyme

Count Me A Rhyme

Write your own poetry!

Fantastic News!

Posted April 7, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Historical Nonfiction Picture Books, Life

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April is poetry month. The following may not be poetry, but it makes my heart sing!

I’m thrilled to announce my newest book, THE BIG STINK: The Legen-dairy Tale of Colonel Thomas S. Meacham and His Enormous Cheese. (This is a working title.)

I’m a children’s book author. I had two early chapter books published years ago along with a variety of educational magazine articles and stories. Then, life got in the way and my writing was intermittent. In the last five years, I’ve been free of major commitments. I’ve used those years to commit to my writing.

I happened to see an unusual story of a huge cheese that was made and delivered to the president of the United States with considerable pomp and circumstance in 1836. It piqued my curiosity, and I began researching the story behind the story in 2019. When I felt I had enough information, I wrote a fictional picture book manuscript that was based on the incident. After many revisions, using comments and suggestions from my critique partners, I sent it to my agent. She liked it, and after more revisions suggested by my agent, she sent it to various publishing houses. The common response was that the editors liked the historical information in the story but didn’t like having a mouse as a narrator. I went back to the drawing board. Or I should say, I went back to the computer board. I turned the fictional story into a narrative nonfiction manuscript. I made sure my research and facts were accurate before sharing the manuscript with my critique partners and my agent. More revisions. The new version was sent out once again. There were more rejections, but Barb McNally and her team at Sleeping Bear Press liked what they saw. Through my agent, they made an offer in August of 2021. Lucky me!

The book is now in the works with talented Lesley Breen tackling the illustrations, and Barb McNally skillfully guiding me through the editorial part of the process. You’ll be hearing more from me as the publication date in Spring of 2023 gets closer. You can check out my website here. I hope readers will find THE BIG STINK a tasty slice of cheesy history.

My Favorite March Picture Books

Posted March 31, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Favorite Monthly Picture Book Choices

Tags: , , , , ,

Choose your favorites

How to Write a Story

With each page turn, readers go through step-by-step instructions on how to write a story. The author accomplishes this in ten easy-to-understand steps. Each one provides suggestions to help the readers and future writers create their own masterpieces. The lively illustrations offer inspiration for readers to get their writing juices flowing. This is a perfect book for students and teachers.

Slug in Love

Simple rhyming text along with playful illustrations tell the story of Doug a slug who needs a hug. Doug is not exactly the most huggable creature until he meets Gail, a snail. Alas, their romance does fail. Then, Doug, the slug meets a bug. Do Doug and the bug become snug as a bug in the rug? You’ll have to read this delightful book to find out.

If You Live Here

What’s it like to live in an unusual place? A spaceship? A burrow? A dollhouse? This book offers all types of imaginative places and what you might have to do if you choose to live there. The whimsical illustrations add to the experience of using imagination to discover what it would be like living in a unique place.

Born on the Water

This is a poignant telling of how 400 years ago Africans were kidnapped by white men and brought to a new land as enslaved people. Written in verse and accompanied by dramatic illustrations that touch the heart, this is a story of hope, strength, and determination for a better life to come.

Chirp!

As night slowly fades away, the birds greet the new day with their songs. As more and more birds join the chorus, the sounds get louder and louder until one small bird hushes them so he, too, can greet the day with his song. Rhyming text and onomatopoeias fill the pages of the book, creating an entertaining experience for readers.

Where is Bina Bear?

Tiny, a rabbit, is having a party for her friend, Bina Bear, but Bina is nowhere to be found. When Tiny finally finds Bina hiding under a grocery bag, Tiny and Bina have a heart-to-heart talk. Bina doesn’t like parties but doesn’t want to disappoint Tiny because Bina likes Tiny. When the guests arrive, Tiny and Bina Bear are nowhere to be found, and that’s just how they like it. Clever illustrations by Mike Curato show Tiny and Bina hiding in plain sight. This is a charming book about shyness, empathy, and friendship.

Tilda Tries Again

Tilda’s world is just right until…it turns upside down. Things suddenly go from easy to hard. Too hard. Tilda gives up and does nothing. When she sees a ladybug stuck on her back. The ladybug keeps trying to turn over with no success. But the ladybug doesn’t give up. She keeps on trying until she achieves success and flies away. Tilda realizes there are times when she must be brave in her topsy-turvy world to make things work. This book addresses facing adversities and trying your best to overcome them.

There’s a Unicorn in Your Book

This interactive book stars a cute unicorn who stopped singing. Worry gremlins are hanging around, and Unicorn needs help from the reader. By following the directions on each page, the reader can make the worry gremlins disappear, and bring Unicorn’s singing back. If unicorns are a favorite thing in your house. This is a book that can be fun for your family.

What’s Going On In The Kitchen?

Posted March 21, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Humor, Life

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Last Thursday – St. Patrick’s Day – something odd happened.

I planned a light Irish dinner featuring Irish Soda Bread and Colcannon Soup.

I was all prepared, or so I thought. I had the dry ingredients in a bowl for the soda bread. All I had to do was to add the liquid ingredients. Faith and begorrah, the milk that was in the refrigerator earlier that morning had disappeared!

My husband offered to get more milk. While he was gone, I prepared the soup. I chopped the cabbage and peeled and chopped the potatoes. When I unbundled the leeks, another not-so-lucky surprise greeted me. One of the leeks was rotten. To compensate for the loss of a leek, I chopped a large onion that brought tears to my eyes.

I melted butter in a big pot and put in the vegetables to cook until slightly tender. I stepped into another room for no more than two minutes when my nose told me something was amiss. The veggies at the bottom of the pot were more than slightly tender. They were burning! I quickly dumped the top layer into another pot, picked out the charred ones, and put the burned pot into the sink.

When my husband returned with milk in hand, he asked, “What’s that I smell?”

My usually calm demeanor disappeared.

“Don’t ask!”

I finished the bread. I finished the soup.

My Irish eyes gazed at the kitchen mess. They were NOT smiling.

It suddenly dawned on me. The likes of those mischievous wee folk had paid me and my kitchen an unexpected St. Paddy’s Day visit!

The redeeming factor of my cooking calamity was my husband. He raved about my delicious dinner. But then again, he’s like Mikey – he’ll eat anything!  

Sláinte!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted March 17, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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